Apr. 4-6, 2013, Douglas Lake - B.A.S.S. Southern Open #2
4/19/2013

After a few days break concluding the Falcon Lake Elite Series event it was back on the road as I was traveling from my home in Del Rio, Texas to Dandridge TN for the 2nd B.A.S.S. Southern Open event of the year. I was pretty excited because this meant I got to spend a week with my BK Fishing teammate Paul Pagnato. Paul and I have a great relationship and we like to attack the lakes together and we have lots of fun hanging out during the events. There was a PAA event the week before and it was dominated with the umbrella rig technique to I went is with the mentality that it was do or die with the U-Rig!

Apr. 4-6, Douglas Lake - B.A.S.S. Southern Open #2

Dandridge, TN is a beautiful place right in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is just a few miles east of Knoxville, TN and consists of mostly rocky shorelines with some clay banks. The lake level fluctuates tremendously in the winter with draw downs upward of 50ft. When the lake is high in the late spring and summer there is many willow trees to flip. The first time, and only time I fished Douglas the water was high so this was a ‘new’ lake for me.

Practice:
Prior to the event I was determined to throw an umbrella rig and catch enough weight to make the top 12 cut. I knew the event would be won on the rig so I wanted to give myself the best opportunity. After all the water temps were in the high 40’s to low 50’s so it was suppose to be the perfect time of year. I didn’t have much experience with the rig so it was going to be a learning process as well. Well, what a lesson I had. I threw that rig nearly the entire practice and caught only a couple of really nice fish with and I never really got onto anything I had confidence in. I tried deep, shallow, slow retrieves, fast ones… switched around swimbaits (the best one I found was the Opti Shad) and the weighting of the rig… just about everything I could think of! I just never had enough bites to put a pattern together… but determined as I threw it too much! Making mistakes I teach not to do all the time… bass fishing is always a learning process and sometimes you’re the teacher and sometimes you’re the student. The few bright spots I had in practice was looking at some nice fish my teammate Paul caught on a deep diving crankbait.

Event Day 1: 2 Bass / 3lbs 4oz – 120th place of 180
The first day of the tournament I am still committed and determined… who knows why?... to catch a big bag on the umbrella rig… with confidence that I can make it happen I run down toward the dam in my Skeeter/Yamaha and start tossing the rig around some likely looking areas. I was targeting locations that would have the fish moving from the main river channel into the major creeks in their spring migration to the spawning areas. There was lots of shad around these locations as well. In the first 15 min. I catch a decent keeper on the umbrella rig and I am thinking… this is it… today is my day! Well, I never had another bite on that thing the rest of the day. Running spot to spot trying to find the mother lode! About 30 min before check-in time that afternoon I toss a football jig on a shallow point and catch another small keeper. It was cold and wet and one of the toughest conditions I had ever fished in with high air temps in the low 40’s and windy and raining all day long. I was ready for a hot shower and ready to re-group for day 2.

Event Day 2: 5 Bass / 9lbs 7oz - 89th place of 180
Due to weighing in a measly 3+lbs on day 1 I was in the hole again and needed that umbrella rig to pull me out… so silly me… I was back out at it again tossing that thing all over the lake. I fished it from dawn until 1pm without a single bite! I gave up on it and ran up the lake to an area where I had caught some fish two years prior and managed to catch 5 keeper bass and culled once in the next 2 hours…. again silly me! 

I was right, the umbrella rig technique won the tournament and was the reason most of the top 10 finished where they did. I guess I have a couple of things to learn. First how to make that umbrella rig work! I really believe after talking to many who were successful throwing it that it was kind of a random deal… I just never hit the jackpot that week with the rig. The second and most important is to fish your strengths… even when you know a certain technique is going to dominate if you can’t make it work stop pushing it. It’s best to move on and fish the next logical step in your instinctual process of fishing. I was just way too hard headed, AGAIN!

Event Total - 7 Bass / 12lbs 11oz / 89th place of 180.

Next blog… Bassmaster Elite Series Event #3, Bull Shoals Lake April 18-21


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